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In Demand: Real Estate Brokers

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Buying or selling a home is a major, often stressful event in peoples' lives. So they look to knowledgeable real estate brokers and sales agents, who can help make the sale as easy and profitable as possible. If you're interested in starting a career in real estate, here is an overview from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Real estate brokers and sales agents know their community's real estate market inside and out. They know which neighborhoods match their clients' needs and pocketbooks, and they are familiar with area zoning and tax laws. When it comes time to buy, they help their clients obtain financing and act as mediators during the price negotiations between buyers and sellers.

Before they can make a sale, agents and brokers must have properties to sell. Therefore, they constantly look for owners to place properties for sale within their firms.

Training and Education
Getting licensed is necessary for real estate brokers and sales agents. To obtain a license, applicants must be at least 18 years old, a high school graduate and pass a written test. In most states, candidates need between 30 and 90 hours of classroom instruction. Brokers usually must have one to three years' experience selling real estate. Licenses must be renewed every year or two, but a renewal exam usually isn't required. As transaction become increasingly complex, college diplomas are becoming more favored.

Many firms offer formal training programs for all agents - new and experienced. In addition, more than a thousand universities and junior colleges offer courses in real estate.

A pleasant personality is extremely important in real estate. Employers seek pleasant people who are honest, mature, tactful and have a neat appearance. Agents should also be well-organized, detail-oriented and have a good memory for names, faces and the business.

Real estate agents are usually independent sales workers who provide services to a licensed real estate broker on a contract basis. Brokers are independent businesspeople who sell real estate owned by others.

Many brokers and agents work part time, and almost six in 10 were self-employed. Historically, homemakers and retired persons were drawn to the flexible, part-time nature of the job, but technology has driven up start-up costs associated with the field. Employment is concentrated in large, urban areas and other rapidly developing communities.

Pros and Cons of Working in Real Estate
Telecommunications and the Internet make it possible for real estate brokers and agents to work from home. Most workers have the freedom to make their own schedule. People who enjoy interacting with and helping others may find this career rewarding.

However, most real estate workers do not work a standard, 9-to-5 workweek. In fact, agents and brokers often work more than 40 hours per week. Evening and weekend work is common to accommodate their clients' needs. The field is competitive, and the technology investments required to start can be expensive.

According to the BLS, the median annual earnings of salaried real estate agents (including commissions) were $30,930 in 2002. Salaried real estate brokers earned $50,330. Commissions are the primary source of income, which usually increase as the agent gains experience.

Job Outlook
Information technology has made existing agents and brokers more productive; therefore, job growth is expected to be slower than the national average through 2012. However, most people still want an actual person to complete the sale. In addition, there will still be some job growth due to the increased housing needs of a growing population.

People who are well trained, ambitious and have many business and social connections in their communities have the greatest chance of success in real estate.

Source: BLS September 2004

Last Updated: 24/09/2007 - 3:50 PM

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